Matthew Dickman

THE 45th SUTRA


I stood on the bridge a very long time, long enough so it wasn’t a bridge
     anymore, and anyway I feel like we can’t even say the word
     anymore because that word is like a horse but with its skin
     on the inside and its organs on the out.

Beneath the bridge there was water or there was a freeway and people driving to work with coffee, the weather in the windshields held pollen from America, the bodies of insects, green-green guts.

People who look like me for hundreds of years have beaten, raped and killed people who look like you and now we want you to explain what we did, we want you to explain it to us. I was raised to think I owned the moon. 

People who look like me think everything is ours, all of it. We think

    it’s all ours. Both the killing and the being killed—

When I was twelve I took a shovel and smashed five, Double-Bubble-pink,

baby mice because their mom was dead and that’s what I thought I was 

supposed to do. I owned the mice but only after I killed them—

their thimble sized heads, their marshmallow lungs. Before me only the earth 

owned them. I bought them for almost nothing 

but a piece of me, a sliver the size of an eyelash that has grown 

into the size of a birthday cake. Before I owned the moon 

and the mice I owned my mother. That was because 

of the milk and if I shit or peed she would wash

    me, she would draw a cool rag over my anus and penis. Later 

I was older and in the fifth grade and read about Hitler and couldn’t stop thinking about him and drew a swastika into the dirt on the hood of my mother’s car and when she saw it she wiped it away and spanked me. 

That’s when I owned her again, that moment her hand came down.

Boys are raised to love their mothers but hate women. I once saw a television show

    where a man ate his own face. His own face! Slowly. I remember feeling

really sick about it—

Inside the moon there is moon-guts. Inside the mother too. Inside me there are

    miles and miles of excuses like intestines, a golden ram, and on all the money

    men like me but with powdered wigs. No one follows me around when

    I shop because I own the security cameras with my skin.

The yellow grass in my old neighborhood washes over all the yards like a dry

    yellow towel, the dandelions green stalks, throats, the sky is blue until it

    rains, the yards steaming like a cigarette a drop of water has put out,

    and here sweeping through us lotto tickets, lighters, bills, post no ills—

    A seed in the mud is drowning to make itself more real. 

When babies are born there is no difference for them between their own bodies 

and the body of the mother. None. For eight to twelve weeks. Which means 

all boys begin their lives as women. They are complete and then they are not.

When the new president became the president we all just stared at the screen 

we were watching like we were seeing something horribly true about who we were and that was true because we were—

I wanted so much to shove a needle in my arm. I wanted to stare up at the ceiling 

and see nothing but stars. I felt so sick. I wanted to have a vision, some kind

of angelic-Western-burning-bush-the-sky-all-television-ash-and-dynamo blue-lights-flickering-god-up-there-vision. But we just made some eggs. 

We made toast and coffee and went back to the screen to watch the people on it talk

about what just happened. It was like they had to eat their own faces. Oh my

friends, I wanted so much to give you good news. I wanted to. I really did.